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Montreal says goodbye to the original 1966 Metro car

MR-63 trains in a service station of Montreal's Transit Corporation (STM).
MR-63 trains in a service station of Montreal's Transit Corporation (STM). STM

Montreal’s Metro network will be paying tribute to its flagship MR-63 trains by running the very last train on each of the four lines between June 18 and 21.

The MR-63 trains spent the last 52 years on the Metro tracks, travelling more than four million kilometres each.

READ MORE: Montreal commuters get to ride first AZUR train

In 2017, the rolling stock was among the oldest still in use on any subway system in the world. The entire Metro fleet ran on rubber tires and concrete rollways, which was uncommon among the traditional steel-on-steel networks of the time.

Officials and dignitaries stood aboard car 81-1502 (81-502 today) for the official photo, seen here, often mistaken for the métro’s inaugural photo. August 24, 1965.
Officials and dignitaries stood aboard car 81-1502 (81-502 today) for the official photo, seen here, often mistaken for the métro’s inaugural photo. August 24, 1965. Ville de Montréal Archives
The interior of the MR-63 has changed over the years. The original design had advertisements and metro maps sharing space on the overhead light panels.
The interior of the MR-63 has changed over the years. The original design had advertisements and metro maps sharing space on the overhead light panels. Ville de Montréal Archives
Increasing ridership lead to an interior redesign in the early 2000s.  Seats were removed for standing room and the poles were modified.
Increasing ridership lead to an interior redesign in the early 2000s. Seats were removed for standing room and the poles were modified. STM Archives
Québec Premier Robert Bourassa experienced a slight mishap when the Green line extension was inaugurated in 1976. Programmed to cover a precise distance, his train stopped mid-platform at Joliette station… because the train had left Préfontaine from the middle of the platform instead of the leading edge.
Québec Premier Robert Bourassa experienced a slight mishap when the Green line extension was inaugurated in 1976. Programmed to cover a precise distance, his train stopped mid-platform at Joliette station… because the train had left Préfontaine from the middle of the platform instead of the leading edge. STM Archives
All 336 MR-63 trains underwent a complete overhaul from 1991 to 1993. The $60 M project extended the cars' lifespan by more than twenty years. The bottom section of the train's front was painted blue to resemble the MR-73.
All 336 MR-63 trains underwent a complete overhaul from 1991 to 1993. The $60 M project extended the cars' lifespan by more than twenty years. The bottom section of the train's front was painted blue to resemble the MR-73. STM Archives
MR-63 trains in a service station of Montreal's Transit Corporation (STM).
MR-63 trains in a service station of Montreal's Transit Corporation (STM). STM
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This photo shows the concrete tracks and rubber tires introduced in Montreal's metro system. Two MR-73 trains sit down the tunnel.
This photo shows the concrete tracks and rubber tires introduced in Montreal's metro system. Two MR-73 trains sit down the tunnel. STM Archives
MR-63 trains in a service station of Montreal's Transit Corporation (STM).
MR-63 trains in a service station of Montreal's Transit Corporation (STM). STM Archives

This system reduced vibrations and offered better manoeuvrability, acceleration, and braking. These aspects of the network live on with the second and third generation Metro cars, the MR-73 trains introduced in 1976 and MPM-10 trains introduced in 2015.

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Montreal’s transit corporation (STM) began retiring the MR-63 trains in 2016 with the introduction of the MPM-10, known as Azur.

To date, 268 MR-63s have been retired.

READ MORE: Half of Montreal’s Metro network now has cell service

While many were dismantled, some were able to leave the tunnels and breathe in new life through the STM’s sustainable reclamation plan. Selected projects worked with the retired Metro cars to build creative spaces and new Montreal icons.

La Station F-MR is one of those. The pilot project on the Lachine Canal offers visitors a café, a concert space, an art gallery, and a chance to hang out in four MR-63 cars. While the location is temporary, a permanent and larger complex will open in Griffintown with eight Metro cars in 2020.

While walking through the cars outside is an experience of its own, your last chance to experience the train in metro tunnels is quickly approaching.

The very last MR-63 train will circulate each of the lines during morning and afternoon rush hour on the following days: